Use a Single Mouse and Keyboard Between Multiple Computers

For those that have a lap­top and a work-station or desk­top PC/Mac, we are often faced with the ques­tion of how to fit and work on both on our tiny lit­tle desks (but that’s prob­a­bly just me). Any­ways, if you haven’t heard of Syn­ergy+:

Syn­ergy lets you eas­ily share a sin­gle mouse and key­board between mul­ti­ple com­put­ers with dif­fer­ent oper­at­ing sys­tems, each with its own dis­play, with­out spe­cial hard­ware. It’s intended for users with mul­ti­ple com­put­ers on their desk since each sys­tem uses its own monitor(s).

It’s a dang use­ful tool. I have recently tried this on my Mac­Book Pro (as the client) to work along my work Mac 24″ and my new rig at home (as the server).

If you are on an OS X sys­tem, you won’t need to install the orig­i­nal Syn­ergy pack­age, but might want to con­sider step­ping in to the GUI ver­sion of it called, Syn­eryKM:

Syn­er­gyKM is a GUI wrap­per around the syn­ergy com­mand line tool that lets you eas­ily share a sin­gle mouse and key­board between mul­ti­ple com­put­ers with dif­fer­ent oper­at­ing sys­tems with­out spe­cial hardware.

Here are the steps I would take; at least mak­ing your main Mac the server, and your Mac­Book+ the client:

  1. Down­load and install Syn­eryKM to both machines. The install should put Syn­ergy in your “Sys­tem Preferences”.
  2. Click­ing on it to open it up, select the appro­pri­ate behavior: 
    1. To make the machine the server, click on the option with “Share my key­board and mouse.”
    2. To make the machine a client, click on the option with “Con­nect to a shared key­board and mouse”.

    It should be intu­itive enough.

  3. Now the next step is to setup the dis­play con­fig­u­ra­tion on “the server” machine. Click on the “Server Con­fig­u­ra­tion” tab. You would then Add each of the machine; you may either use their com­puter name(s)
  4. In “the client” machine(s), you are instead click­ing on the “Client Con­fig­u­ra­tion” tab. Enter either the Server IP or host­name of “the server” machine.
  5. Last but not least, you just need “Turn Syn­ergy On” and that should do it.

Note: If you have upgraded to at least Leop­ard v10.5.2, you will need to make sure that “Enable Bon­jour” option is turned off. There seems to be a prob­lem that causes Syn­er­gyKM to not work cor­rectly with it enabled in this ver­sion of Leopard.

Any­ways, I’ll see if I can write up the steps to get­ting your PC/Windows machine work­ing when I get a chance later. For now, soak in the glory of using just a key­board and a mouse to con­trol your machines.

Updated Fri­day, Decem­ber 9, 2011
I have updated this post with the lat­est links to the projects men­tioned above. As of the time of this writ­ing, I am using the lat­est Syn­ergy 1.4.5 Beta 64-bit on my PC (the server), and Syn­er­gyKM 1.0 Beta 7 (1.0b7, as the client).

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